The federal government recruits an Asian art expert to find a missing Mesopotamian vessel.
The CIA is mighty secretive when they invite Rei Shimura for a job interview at the Smithsonian. When they offer a visa that will let her re-enter Japan after having been booted out (The Pearl Diver, 2004, etc.), Rei agrees to look for the Ibex ewer, a 3,000-year-old treasure stolen from the National Museum of Iraq and now believed to be in Japan. But Rei can’t tell her boyfriend, Hugh, about her new job. And she’ll have to deal with her old boyfriend Takeo Kayama, who may be masterminding an antiquities smuggling ring in Japan. After memorizing code names, taking a crash course in Middle Eastern pottery and pocketing a cell phone assigned to her by Michael Hendricks of the State Department, Rei alights in Tokyo, sleeps with Takeo, then meets his fiancée Emi, who, distraught, promptly dies in a car accident. While breaking and entering various estates, dealing with the super-rich and politically connected, she suffers through a typhoon’s aftermath. Fortified by sushi and ramen, she tracks down Emi’s jilted boyfriend and his Turkish kinfolk and wraps up a case that has more to do with passport brokering than waylaid art.
Where has Massey’s humor gone? Rei’s turned glum, maybe because she sees that if she really is about to embark on a spying career, her series has run out of steam.